Qualcomm is bringing 5G to smartwatches and other wearables

An active LTE connection from T-Mobile on the Galaxy Watch 5
(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Qualcomm has launched the new Snapdragon X35 5G modem.
  • The device aims to bring 5G connectivity to smartwatches, wearables like AR glasses, and more.
  • The company expects the first devices to be available in 2024. 

There are plenty of smartwatches that are capable of connecting to a mobile network, but as smartphones have fully embraced 5G for the past several years, wearables have lagged behind with LTE. Qualcomm is looking to remedy that with its new 5G modem, aimed at these types of devices.

The new Snapdragon X35 was announced this week and is the world's first 5G NR-Light modem. It comes in a smaller form factor, which is perfect for devices like smartwatches, AR glasses, and IoT devices, the type of products Qualcomm is targeting with the modem.

NR-Light, also known as RedCap or "reduced capability," is also ideal for these types of products since they don't require the same high performance that's expected in devices like smartphones and laptops. Thus, the Snapdragon X35 is meant to bring higher bandwidth, lower latency, and improved performance over 4G LTE while remaining compact and battery efficient.

This means future Android smartwatches and other devices will be able to tap into sub-6 5G for faster speeds of up to 220Mbps and VoNR. They'll also be able to fall back on LTE if necessary. And it's not just smartwatches and wearables, but Qualcomm is also targeting low-power laptops such as cheap Chromebooks.

Graphic detailing the Snapdragon X35 modem's benefits

(Image credit: Qualcomm)

In a recent poll we conducted, it was clear that connected smartwatches aren't for everyone, and many users are content with Bluetooth/Wi-Fi smartwatches. However, there are still plenty of users that find LTE connectivity a useful feature to have on their wrists, and fortunately, there are many LTE smartwatches to pick from.

As for when we can expect products to arrive with this new modem, Qualcomm says we'll be waiting until at least the first half of 2024. The company did not say what type of products we can expect, so there's no saying when the first 5G-enabled smartwatches will hit the market.

Derrek Lee
News Editor

Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.